Let it flow from your insides out, let yourself lose sensibility. I missed you for so long, I longed for you entirely. Now you touch me and I feel nothing. Nothing but a tinge of anger and a whole lot of embarrassment.

So please don’t touch me. All I wanted was your touch but that time has passed and I got used to regretting you. I got used to the idea that I am enough. I know that I need no justification to breathe, I need no other human to complete my essence, and I certainly do not need a bear hug from someone who I could still love at the drop of a hat. Someone I still think of with a tear in my eye.

Yes, its too soon. Don’t squeeze me, don’t rob me of my dignity, hold me all night long or don’t touch me at all.

Again there is that feeling that all I want is to be requited. But what does that really mean anyways? I love the excitement of not knowing whats going to happen next.

Sure I want to be touched, sure I want to be adored, of course I need love. But I don’t look for it and certainly don’t expect anything but the bitter after burn of rejection.

I am a different breed. I dance and I feed. I float through the night on a trike with a borrowed light. Lost. Lost and alone, unconcerned, and on fire. I burn for forgiveness, I yearn to be stopped in my tracks. Call out my privilege, I dare you.

I crush on people with the expectation that nothing will come of it. I defeat the pain before it cuts in. I crush the crush while the talons extend. My armor goes up and my guard is on duty.

I sign up for projects when I can’t finish my own thoughts. I can’t trade my talent for money, just the satisfaction of seeing someone satisfied. I love watching dreams bud and blossom by my pen. I have a zillion dreams that are awaiting fruition. I know that I need to take myself into consideration but often forget. I blow off people who I love the most, late for everything.

I also realize that its not easy for anyone. I can’t imagine being someone else. If I think its hard, me, a beautiful privileged white woman, then shit, it must get much worse than this.

Energy and time are precious commodities, when I dedicate myself to the resistance, when I put my life into helping others, I feel gratified, I am no longer hungry or alone.

I need no justification of my talents, just seeing how small deeds can lighten the load for others. My load is superficial, loneliness is temporal.

And then there is someone lurking 10 hours away, I want to surprise you, or I want to be gay. I long to be with a unicorn. Lavandar, pink, baby blue. I want to smell the cheerios and rotten lake water. I want to ride bikes all night until the sun comes up, but I never feel fast enough, always second guessing my abilities. Stunted by my own doubts, afraid of fear, accompanied by demons that have been there forever, before I was born, and will outlive my essence.

Carry on, move forward, keep on keeping on, some nights are better, others cut like rusted knives. A dull hellish gashing metal bit. Manmade monstrosity.

I want to write a song like Hotel California. A bizarre song hated and loved equally, make millions, go down in history. What is history? Can I really change it all?

Sometimes I need to escape reality. I do that by painting, traveling, and going out on the lake with my Dad. His boat is called the Lady Fred, after my grandmother, the sweetest woman in the world. Her photo is on there, and it makes my heart soar. I miss her smile everyday, the sun hasn’t been the same since she died. She is the butterfly that floats on by.

It felt incredible to have the wind run its tendrils through my whispy crispy faded hair (which is finally getting long again). It felt right to get smacked by air. Oxygen and water, bonding time with my pops.

I am lucky that my parents are my best friends. I regret my spoiled brat moments. All they ever wanted was my happiness. They tell me now that I am too radical. Is it radical to love? Is it radical to be kind? Being vegan and helping others is the radical that I yearn for. It is right.

They thought my hair color was a phase too, and the I am wearing the same ripped up shirt and punk skirt that I wore when I was 15. While we may not agree on everything, I still love them.

I was having a late night paint night with a couple of friends, working on a flyer with a girl in a cage and a guy playing piano. We thought The Joy of Painting would kick start creative flow. Boy did it! Bob Ross should have done the play by play for porn, his voice is so calming and inherently sexual.

Perhaps its because painting gets me off. Art is life, it is sensual and personal. Bob Ross is magical, he creates crazy shit in a short amount of time. I would get angry because even if I listened to him it wouldn’t be the same. He taught me that everyone is different and every style is beauty. You look away for a moment and BOOM there it is.

I had no idea that he was ex military, dealing with death and destruction by painting beautiful landscapes and teaching others. I bet a lot of women (and men) watched that show and thought he was hot. I am thinking about doing a dramatic reading of some of his lines.

Sometimes when you are standing too close to it is difficult to see

Just put a little sunshine in there

You can create any illusion that you want in here

In a few years when someone sees this painting they will know that you had a fantastic day when you made this

You have experienced the joy of painting

Gently

There we are

Very gently

Very easy

Very light

Very gentle

There we are

Do you see how it fluffs up?

So fantastic

Sensual

We’ve got a nice little cloud there.

(Awwwwwe Yeaaaa)

After years of tax exemptions, the religious communities in the City of Montreal are facing big tax bills. It has recently come to light that once exempt institutions like the Cote des Neiges Presbyterian Church are receiving tax bills from the City. Inspectors from the City of Montreal are now visiting churches more regularly, taking pictures and noting how every space in the church is used.

Municipal property inspections are nothing new. It’s how the City of Montreal assesses how to tax you and for how much. Religious institutions, however, are the exception.

According to the Quebec Act Respecting Municipal Taxation, a property “in the name of a religious institution… used by it or gratuitously by another religious institution… not to derive income but in the immediate pursuit of the religious or charitable objects” is exempt from all municipal or school property taxes. That means that as long as a given space is owned by a religious institution and is used exclusively for worship or other religious ends, it is considered to be exempt from property taxes.

The problem is that many religious institutions in Montreal don’t use their property exclusively for worship, hosting vital community organizations in available spaces within their buildings. The tax bills and increased inspections likely mean that the City is interpreting the law more strictly so that they can tax houses of worship for the spaces they don’t use for religious services and prayer.

The City of Montreal claims that they are simply trying to prevent people from defrauding the system, but not everyone agrees.

M, an expert on municipal assessments and taxation, said that they’re doing it because it will result in tax revenue from sources that weren’t providing any tax revenue before.

I asked M what the municipal assessors would be looking for when deciding how much to tax a religious institution.

“Proof that there are parts of a church that aren’t being used for worship,” he replied.

A room used for worship is tax exempt, a room used for anything else would hypothetically be subject to taxation.
I asked M if the City could tax some parts of a house of worship while exempting other parts of the same building from taxation.

“They can split the assessment, and they do. I’ve seen it before. They can send a bill that indicates the taxable portion and the non-taxable portion,” he said.

That begs the question as to whether facilities that while not used exclusively for worship, would be considered an essential part of any building, let alone a church. Though people rarely worship while on the toilet, for example, it should be considered an essential part of any space’s facilities and subject to any exemptions tied to a given space.

Though some have praised the City’s move to start taxing religious institutions as an assertion of the separation of church and state and a break for taxpayers, there is reason to believe the move will come at the expense of community organizations.

NDG City Councilor Peter McQueen points out that important community groups in NDG such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, as well as the NDG Food Depot and the NDG Community Council rely on the City’s churches to provide spaces for them to meet. He explained that this is because historically the churches were involved in charity work separate from the state.

I asked McQueen how he felt these groups would be affected by the new taxation rules.

“Terrible! I mean, if these groups had to leave the churches they’d be in a major quandary here in NDG.”

He said that if these groups had to find other places to meet, the City would have to step up and meet the demand. Currently in Cote des Neiges and NDG most community spaces are used for sports or borough offices. Houses of worship have until now been filling the need for spaces for these community groups to meet, but that may change with the new taxation rules.

At the end of the day, the issue comes down to one of money.

Will this move by the City of Montreal make the City more money, or cost it money in the long run?

Peter McQueen thinks it will end up costing the City, as it will have to step up to meet the demand for community meeting spaces that had previously been filled by the churches.

M thinks the City may choose to simply not fill that need, which would come at the expense of the community that relies on these groups to help the needy and provide safe activities for their children.

There is the additional risk that some congregations may fold altogether under the new taxation rules, as their dwindling flocks and basic expenses put houses of worship in the red before they ever see a tax bill. They can always contest the tax assessments in court, and there will likely be legal challenges if there are enough tax dollars involved.

At the end of the day, it will be the community that pays for this.

Sometimes things happen, life happens, a kiss on the cheek turns to lust, turns to action, then a break of trust. How can you navigate heartache and bliss within yourself and every other person that your current person has ever slept with?

I am guilty of a disregard or lack in judgement, not caring about eventual consequences while in the moment. I didn’t make anyone want me. They acted first. They wanted me and I am solely to blame? I don’t think so. It takes two to tango sister.

Sure, I could have said something and put the nail in the coffin sooner, but thats not what I wanted. I knew it was going to be the eventual outcome, so I got deeper and deeper into deceit. Keeping out the details.

I lost a friend because I slept with her ex. Plain and simple. I never planned it and certainly didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It happened, I knew that as soon as it came to a head I would lose a friend over it. I just did my best while I was in her life and I hope everything else works out. I know she feels betrayed and thinks I’m a piece of moldy trash.

In reality I thank him for coming clean. I am glad to not be living with a secret, full disclosure is important to any relationship. Losing friends is a good time for emotional spring cleaning. I cannot and will not talk to either of them ever again. There is no coming back from this.

All of the anger and hate is focused on me because she is still in love with him. She can forgive him because she wants to claim him forever. That’s fine, he loves her too, they can be a beautiful entity forever. I never wanted to be in a relationship with anyone. It was just a fleeting moment.

It is not right to put it all on my shoulders, that says that he is just an object, thoughtless, incapable of fucking up. We cannot let people off the hook for the decisions they have made. He left her before he kissed me. Of course I am not innocent, I could have said no, but I didn’t. I am not entirely to blame either.

I am a deviant slut and he is an angel. I am to blame for everything. This is everything that feminism fights against. Relationships are not property! I do not claim to manage any of my partner’s sexuality. That is rape culture. I did not force anyone to want me. I did not put a magical spell on them or throw myself at them.

Blaming “the other woman” is toxic, competitive, and oppressive. We are pitted against each other to compete for a small crew of “good men”. Women get chastised and blamed even by other women. Shame the slut and cast her away like a used condom.

How can you hold claim over someone when you had someone else? You can’t “keep” every person that you have ever been with. I know the “bro” code is a thing, but I don’t truly understand because people are not objects. You do not own the person you are dating, especially after a break up. Relationships are a daily choice, a mutual trust, not an obligation. Things change.

Every action has a reaction. I have never pursued a person who was in a relationship, but someone who is single and willing and barking up my tree doesn’t come along every day. I have been single for a very long time, never really looking, just waiting to see what comes next in the adventure.

I have come to the conclusion that this city is too small (I mean this city as any city). This world is too small and everybody is somebody’s ex. I can’t change the past. I will live in the smite zone and must deal with the fact that someone I used to love feels that I am a succubus-swine-dirty-cunt-homewrecking-whore.

Currently one of the hardest things to do as a writer is cover the explosion of nepotism, treason, espionage, bigotry, misogyny, greed, and comical idiocy that makes up the 45th presidency of the United States. Nothing so pointedly demonstrates this difficulty than Allan J. Lichtman’s book The Case for Impeachment.

Allan J. Lichtman is a legend.

A distinguished professor of history at American University in Washington DC, he has successfully predicted the outcome of eight US presidential elections. In November 2016 he predicted that the Orange Con-Man would win the election, and that he would be impeached. It is therefore no surprise that Lichtman and his publishers worked to get this book out before any such proceedings could take place.

After a couple of introductory chapters explaining impeachment rules, Lichtman, chapter by chapter, launches into a full scale indictment of the Orange Buffoon.

It’s a good book, but it’s incomplete. It’s incomplete because it could have used the notion of impeachment to make a broader point about the state of American politics, but didn’t, and it’s incomplete because that Entitled Orange Bully damns himself too quickly for most writers to follow.

The book is focused and because of that, it’s an easy read. In each chapter Lichtman talks about Cheeto-Head’s conduct before and after taking office, ties it to a legal issue or an aspect of the President’s character, and then argues it as grounds for impeachment.

Before we get into the indictments in The Case for Impeachment, we need to talk about impeachment itself.

What is Impeachment?

Impeachment does not guarantee a removal from public office. It does not fire the president. What it does is act as a formal charge of misconduct that can be brought against the president, the vice-president, and all civil officers in the United States. The power to impeach is vested in the US Congress, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, though only the Senate has power to remove an official from public office following an impeachment.

The process works like this: any member of either house in Congress can draw up articles of impeachment aka charges against said public official. The House can approve or reject article(s) of impeachment, usually following an investigation, by a simple majority vote. If the House votes in favor of impeachment, the accused is impeached.

The case is then brought before the Senate which holds a sort of trial. Each side can present witnesses and the president is allowed to use his own lawyer if he wants. If the one facing impeachment is the president, the case is presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, currently Justice John Roberts, who has had clashes with the current president before.

Once the trial is heard, the case goes to the Senate, which acts as a sort of jury. It takes a two thirds majority in the Senate consisting of sixty-seven votes to remove an official. If convicted, the president would be removed from office and lose any privileges and immunities he had in office, and the vice-president would take over.

In the nineties, the House voted in favor of impeaching Bill Clinton, but because he was popular at the time, his opponents failed to get the sixty-seven votes needed to remove him, thus allowing Clinton to finish up his term.

Grounds for Impeachment

According to the US Constitution, the president can be removed from office “for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” According to Lichtman, this has historically been given broad interpretation allowing for impeachment due to conduct before or after taking office. Lichtman also contends that a conviction for any of the aforementioned acts is not pre-requisite, just the fact that the president did them. That said, there is also the Emoluments clause in the Constitution that says that:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

An emolument is a salary, fee, or profit, and the notion of emoluments is especially relevant given the mounting evidence that the Orange Administration and the Russians colluded with one another.

Lichtman’s indictments of Nacho-Face are numerous.

He talks about the president’s war on women, mentioning sexual harassment charges and disgusting entitled behavior. Unfortunately, his chapter on the subject does not go far enough. He refrains from mentioning accusations that the president sexually assaulted a thirteen-year-old girl while at a party of now convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the president who prided himself on procuring underage girls for rich men. It does not address the Orange Bully’s remark that women who get abortions should be punished.

Lichtman also talks about the president’s disgraceful business practices, pointing out that for a man claiming to be for getting jobs for working Americans, his track record suggests a preference for employing illegal immigrants because they’re more easily exploitable. He mentions the man’s denial of climate change, but perhaps unwisely implies that the Syrian refugee crisis was largely due to it, when we can all agree that drought does not make evil leaders do what Assad has done.

In an extensive chapter devoted to Russia, the author describes how deeply entangled the president’s businesses are with forces in Eastern Europe. He also devotes chapters to the Orange administration gross disregard for the Constitution, the law, and basic human decency.

One of the best things about this book is that it is fundamentally an American work. There are little to no comparisons with other countries or leaders and refrains from references to international history.

This perhaps is a mistake.

The Orange Administration is doing what stereotypical Republicans have dreamed of: an America where the poor look to people of colour and immigrants as the source of their misfortunes, allowing the upper one percent to hold onto their wealth by cutting their own taxes, effectively destroying American healthcare, education, employment, and infrastructure.

History has taught us that people eventually catch on to who is really hurting them, and as the French Revolution teaches us, a reluctance of the wealthy to help the poor leads to catastrophic civil unrest. If the White House isn’t careful, they may one day be faced with an angry mob and a guillotine.

Have you ever taken a different way to work for no apparent reason? Without thought, I took a different turn than normal, shortly after one of my best friends came the other way on her bike. She was also taking a different route, getting out of work early and I was running late. We met in the middle as if it was fate, and it turned out she needed me that day.

I love when that happens. It happens to me so often that I feel as if I am living in a dream half the time. I wonder if I just never came back from an acid trip and am floating on a cloud in a world where everything is connected.

She told me that I always call or text her at just the right moment, and she does the same to me. It’s like I get these feelings, I know I’m supposed to be doing what I am doing while I am doing it. Even the most mundane experiences all lead up to bigger and more impactful moments.

It’s like when you think about someone or have a dream about them and suddenly you run into them at the grocery store the next day. It can be obscure people you never even thought you had a connection to. My roommate mentioned her ex’s brother when something reminded her of him and boom, there he was riding down the street on his bike like clockwork, she hadn’t seen him for years.

A friend told me that pot saved her life. She explained that everyday she gets in her car at exactly 10AM to go to work, it’s just her routine. On this fateful day she decided to take a toke before heading out, so she was walking down the stairs at 10:01 and heard a loud smash, someone had hit her parked car, totaling it. She would have just been getting in her car at impact.

My car broke down once and I had to walk home in a snow storm, as I reached the end of the driveway my mom called me. I picked up to tell her I was there even though I was cold and moments from the door. At the very second I said hello a tree crashed down into our driveway, onto my mom’s car, and right where I would have been standing to open the door.

There was a girl in college, we showed up wearing the same costume (to the T) multiple times. The same glitter eyelashes. Sparkly pretty things. It was a sign. I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes (I used to think that Ace of Base song was I saw the Sun). She liked it better when it rained and her smile illuminated all. I knew. I loved her, I still do. It was uncanny, it happened many times throughout the course of our friendship.

Soulmates are real. Proof that everything is connected, and not in a crystal grabbing sort of way. Physics confuse me but maybe there is math involved, an X or a Y, some variables, some things that cannot be explained by numbers alone.

We had a dog named Rocky, he was incredible because he survived bone cancer and had three legs. He still swam faster than younger four-legged dogs. The night he passed away some strange occurrences happened. He closed his eyes for the last time and all of the power in our house went out. We said our goodbyes to our dead dog in the dark. I knew it was a deeper almost magical connection to the universe.

Synchronicities are meaningful coincidences, more than just happy accidents. Synchronicity is a theory by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to describe the temporally coincident occurrences of causal events. It explains the moments that seem just too perfect to be true.

Serendipity means a fortunate happenstance or pleasant surprise. While this word is more fanciful and has a similar meaning I figured I would go with synchronicity because it didn’t remind me of a John Cusak movie.

I love John Cusak, his movies are perfect for the hopeless romantic in us all. Everybody dreams of having a Lloyd Dobbler court them with a boom box and a Peter Gabriel song blasting. There is hope in his realness, there is accessibility in those love stories., and beauty in the timelessness of it all. People who are eternally heartbroken like me often hear that everything happens for a reason, and it’s not bullshit.

I feel like my life is a movie most of the time, perfectly curated and overflowing with luck and great timing. When that perfect song plays at just the right moment. When the DJ knows the soundtrack of your life every time it’s more than just a “great minds think alike” situation. People come in and out of your life in seemingly random moments, but everything matters, everything has meaning.

Even as I was writing this an artist was hanging art in the gallery across the hall, she stopped to eat, and then I put some music on. Tune Yards, she exclaimed that she was just thinking of putting on this very album when she went in the gallery. And it was just random pandora. How did it know?

I am writing an article about synchronicity and it happens! A connection, a moment shared, same wavelength. Feeding off vibes and energy we all look for little cosmic reassurances. When that happens I know all is right, I am on course. Oh Sweet synchronicity, what have you done to me?

It is appalling that in 2017 we still need to have a conversation about sexual consent.

In April 2017, Alexandra Brodsky published an article in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law titled RAPE ADJACENT: Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal. It brought to light the sinister practice of men taking off condoms without their partners’ consent (the slang term for it being “stealthing”). This practice does not exclusively affect women having sex with men, as gay men have also been victimized.

This article is not going to dignify the practice by calling it by its slang term as doing so trivializes a violation of a person’s right to bodily integrity and self-determination. It is not going to address the personal failings of those – usually MRAs – who advocate for or practice non-consensual condom removal, though it is HIGHLY tempting to do so.

This article IS going to revisit the notion of consent and discuss the practice of nonconsensual condom removal and the potential legal ramifications of it under Canadian criminal and civil law. This article will limit discussions to nonconsensual condom removal as I covered the topic of consent in detail in December 2015 and thus far those laws remain unchanged.

Consent is not transferable

By law, consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Without consent, sexual activity becomes sexual assault.

It is widely recognized that consent for one sexual act does not constitute blanket consent for any and all others. Consenting to vaginal sex does not mean, for example, that you also consent to anal sex. In the context of nonconsensual condom removal, agreeing to have sex with a condom does not mean you consent to have sex without one.

There is no consent if a person, having consented to sexual activity, “expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity”. That means that a person has every right to stop things at any time, and continuing despite their reluctance constitutes sexual assault. This is notion is important as nonconsensual condom removal often happens right before re-penetration. That means that the guy in question will pull out, take the condom off, and then re-penetrate their partner.

If the victim catches the person doing this and demands a stop to the activity and the person persists, that person crosses the line between consensual sexual activity and sexual assault.

As Brodsky points out, most victims of nonconsensual condom removal only realized the condom removal at the moment of re-penetration, when their partner ejaculated, or because their partner told them the next morning.

Intent is important

When Brodsky interviewed victims of nonconsensual condom removal, what was telling was the behavior of their partners afterward. According to the article, the men were dismissive, and often refused to help pay for emergency contraception or STI testing even though pregnancy and STIs are potential consequences of not using a condom. In her research Brodsky went online anonymously to look at what proponents of nonconsensual condom removal had to say about it.

The motivation for the practice stems in part from the desire for increased physical pleasure, but what’s more problematic was that it also stems from the thrill of degrading their sex partner and their belief in men’s inherent right to violence and to spread their seed.

All of this is extremely important in the context of mens rea for determining guilt for sexual assault.

Most crimes in Canada have two aspects, actus reus – meaning the act of the crime itself, and mens rea- the ‘guilty mind’ referring to the knowledge, recklessness, or negligence of the perpetrator engaging in the crime.

In Canadian Criminal law, the mens rea required for sexual assault cases is whether the perpetrator knowingly, recklessly, or negligently engaged in the sexual activity without the victim’s consent. One could argue that the dismissive attitude of a man engaging in this practice towards his victim combined with online expressions of his belief in his right to remove the condom for whatever reason and his taking glory in the degradation of his partner by violating their consent would provide the needed mens rea.

If Canadian Criminal law will not recognize nonconsensual condom removal as sexual assault, there is always civil law.

The Quebec Civil Code recognizes the inviolability and integrity of every person. It also recognizes that every person has “a duty to abide by the rules of conduct incumbent on him, according to the circumstances, usage, or law, so as not to cause injury to another” and that should a person endowed with reason cause injury to another – be it bodily, moral, or material – that person is bound to make reparation for it.

Bodily injury in Quebec Civil Law refers to damages to your physical body, material injury refers to damages to your property, and moral refers to psychological damages. While not an ideal remedy for the violation of bodily autonomy and fear of unwanted pregnancies and STIs, a victim of nonconsensual condom removal could sue on one or all three of these grounds.

Any STIs or unwanted pregnancies that ensue could be argued as bodily injury, loss of a job to deal with the fallout, physical or mental, of the violation could be grounds for a demand for material damages, and the psychological impact of the violation could be cause for moral damages.

Birth control rebuttal

In response to recent discussions about nonconsensual condom removal, there have been lots of people claiming that if this practice is illegal, it should also be a crime to lie about being on the birth control pill. People claim laws are unfair to men given that in March 2017, an Ontario court ruled against a man who sued a woman who lied about being on birth control prior to them having sex. She got pregnant and he sued for psychological damages.

While there is no disputing the immorality of lying about being on birth control, there are some fundamental differences between lying about being on the pill and nonconsensual condom removal.

First, there is no online cult of women working to deceive men about being on birth control due to a belief in some inherent right the way there is one of men who feel entitled to spread their seed regardless of the wishes of their partner. It should also be noted that birth control sabotage is not performed primarily by women desperate for a baby, but by abusive male partners looking to make a woman more dependent on him.

Second, lying about the pill does not put the man at risk of STIs the way removing a condom without consent puts the victims at risk.

Brodsky points out the third when she discusses the danger of legally enforcing demands for full reproductive transparency, which is that it puts vulnerable people at risk, such as those who cannot take birth control for health reasons but are stuck with partners who demand sex but will not use condoms.

It should also be noted that the reason why the Ontario courts ruled against the man in the aforementioned case is because it was judged primarily on family law grounds. In Ontario, family law cases are assessed in ways to benefit children and not favor one parent over another.

His case was dismissed primarily for the sake of the child that resulted from the woman’s deception, but also because it became clear that the plaintiff’s issue was not the sex, but the ensuing unwanted parenthood and potential financial obligations connected to it. Given that, a better equivalent for this case would be that of a man who lied about being sterile or having had a vasectomy in order to have consensual sex without a condom which resulted in a pregnancy.

In cases of nonconsensual condom removal, the victims only agreed to a specific sex act, one with a condom. The removal of the condom nullified their consent, and the willful violation of that consent is just that, a violation.

* Featured image: Women’s Health

Remember the time I was almost arrested for sharing free food with my friends?

I do. It was a cold, rainy May Day and we showed up to Lafayette Square (in Buffalo NY) as usual, well maybe we were 10 minutes late, and then as soon as I got out of the car and hugged my one of the people waiting in line, BOOM, out comes an officer of the law to tell me I needed to stop.

STOP? Stop serving my community while you sit there serving a paycheck? STOP? Stop providing necessary organic vegetables to those too poor to afford them, to those living in a food desert, to those who are HUNGRY RIGHT NOW, to those waiting in the rain for a meal (believe me if they didn’t need it they wouldn’t be there).

I could not serve my friends in the park. Our picnic was trampled by someone paid with my tax dollars. My heart was broken.

Buffalo Food Not Bombs serves every Monday and Saturday and has for over 20 years, no matter rain, snow, or sunshine we are out there with our friends, our people, our community. Some things are maybe not worth getting arrested for, this is not one of those things. I will do anything in my power to keep our free vegan picnic going forever.

Volunteering has given my life meaning, I have made some incredible friends, and when I walk down the street people wave to me, people I serve, people I love dearly, people who need nourishment. Food Not Bombs is a worldwide movement against hunger and food waste, we got this. 

They said it was permits we needed- well I went to the permit office like a bat out of hell immediately after and guess what they told me? NO PERMITS ARE NECESSARY IF THE FOOD IS FREE! How about them (free) apples?

We only serve vegetables so the laws about meat temperature do not apply to us. We only give away things for free that were donated so no taxes apply to us. This food is a gift and there is no gain to share unsafe food.

We share the food immediately after it is cooked in a clean and inspected kitchen with gloves and clean containers and cutlery. We have filed paperwork with the Health Department to make sure we are legit on that account, but both of the kitchens we cook in have already been on the books and inspected, so why? Why are we being hassled now?

One thought is that May Day is a day that activists tend to lash out against “the man”. Perhaps we were a threat? Giving out free food to serve the revolution is dangerous. Making sure there are no rumbling tummies is a travesty.

The Police have always had a watchful eye on us, Feed them? Ha, make them starve! Not on my watch, bro. If I have an abundance I will share it by any means necessary.

Another theory is that there is also a new “luxury” hotel right across from Lafayette Square, perhaps they don’t want tourists to see our homeless population? Gentrification will not stand, this is a public park, and our people will continue to enjoy it. I have heard of people getting arrested for serving free food in places like Florida, but there are no standing laws that apply to us here in Buffalo.

That day I gave my phone number to a few regulars, the next day an elderly woman hit me up. She depended on our free produce. Her sister is also vegan, they cannot afford that life without our support. I hooked her up with produce and gave her a ride home.

It turns out that she used to be an art teacher, she dedicated her life to making children see beauty. She told me not to swear (I am a potty mouth fo sho) and also said that she went to the same church as one of the officers. I hope she makes her cry on Sunday.

This woman is so sweet, thank you again Sara, for reminding me why we do this. I made a friend for life because I reached out a hand full of food and she needed it. This sweet woman told me that I was doing God’s work. Well, I am an atheist, but I respect that because I knew religion was very important to her. I will NEVER STOP! Never.

We made asparagus with garlic and olive oil, mixed veggies, green salad, apple crisp, banana cranberry bread, mixed sweet and white potatoes, roasted caramelized cabbage, cantelope, fresh bread and bagels, fruit smoothies, iced sweet tea, and organic produce to share. Thankfully we were able to serve our meal at the University of Buffalo in solidarity with Muslim students at a hate speech by Robert Spencer (anti-jihad alt right nut job) that was sponsored by the on campus white supremacist student group. So it didn’t go to waste. We found an alternate place to serve for that one day, we will be back in our regular place ASAP.

The community support has been phenomenal. Many have reached out and will be volunteering with us. This Saturday’s share will be incredible. I cannot wait to see what comes of this.

Thank you for the free publicity. We will have an uproar from our beautiful neighbors to stand up for those who need a meal. Shame on you for trying to shut us down! If you had a problem with us, tell us and we will fix it, don’t shut us down when people are depending on us to eat that day!

The cops were always “nice” to us in the past. A week before there was a young, black, female officer that was “helping” us. This week she would not look me in the eye as we were forced to shut down. She was a plant, she was used because we would accept her presence a little easier. Officer Gentrification looked a lot like the cop from Terminator 2. I am not intimidated or impressed. Their hungry tummies are on your conscience sir!

You did not serve or protect anyone on this day. I had to tell a homeless person of color “Do not take that bread.” I had to tell an elderly woman whose hand was shaking “Do not take those apples.” I had to tell a woman with small children “I cannot give you that food.”

Food is necessary for survival, it is a right and not a privilege! I should have stood up right then and there, but I didn’t, and I am disappointed in myself. I thought about the people I was with, other volunteers, the good ones, and didn’t want them to get hurt.

My community is my life. I care about the people we serve as if they were my family because all humans are my family! This is a cause worth getting arrested for. If we are told to stop once more, the next meal is a protest and everyone is invited.

Alcohol and I don’t mix. I am second guessing my whole attraction to the party scene, I just don’t want to be a clouded disaster anymore. Also, and more importantly, it’s bad for my body.

Why do I have to be drunk to dance and meet people? I have more meaningful relationships that begin with chance meetings at art openings or while volunteering, nothing good has ever come out of the bar. It’s just a place to spend money and waste away. Pay to rot in the darkness while everyone is trying to get their dick sucked. Bumping around at last call to find someone just as drunk as them to bump uglies with.

Going out all the time is a game. You see the same people, spending their money, playing pool, throwing back beers and shots, looking more attractive to each other by the second.

When you are the only sober person in the group it is interesting. You can see the dark side of the depressant that is alcohol. People spiral out of control and act a fool. Barely able to walk or create sentences, bumbling, spilling, spending money, desperation, mindlessly grabbing for any shred of connection they can get. Nobody realizes how silly the whole thing is if everyone is drunk.

I have noticed a disturbing trend among my friends: everyone is fucking depressed. People are drinking to forget instead of to enjoy. To medicate instead of celebrate.

Like every other person with fading youth I have dabbled in alcoholism, been the girl who made all of the bad decisions. I have taken cabs home with strange men and women. I have woken up next to a person that I never remembered even meeting, let alone fucking.

Taking advantage of a drunk person is RAPE! What kind of feminist has such little self respect that the only way she can get some is by getting black out? You must respect yourself. The difference of good people who do bad things sometimes and bad people who do good things sometimes isn’t clear when you are inebriated.

For me being sober has a better chance of leading to ghosting – the art of sneaking out without saying goodbye. I know this can be bad, people may wonder “WTF happened to Cat?” A lot of times my friends get pissed, but most times people don’t even notice I am gone. Everyone is drunk and wrapped up in their own worlds, trying to get fucked or make a meaningful connection, pounding beers.

If I feel un-engaged I will bounce. I keep imagining how much nicer my bed full of kitties and books is than this dingy ass bar.

I have been inspired by a couple of my friends who have been reading books in the corner of the bar. This is a great upgrade from texting away. My bestie said that more people came and sat next to her when she was reading over texting or just drinking and staring off into the abyss. Being in your own head is more approachable. Being smart is attractive.

I find that my greatest sadness and isolation happens when I am in a full room of people, most of which I know and love, and I drink. Once I drink a wave of darkness comes over me. I am lonely in a way that is incomprehensible.

I often feel socially awkward when in a bar situation. I can’t hear enough to conversate. I really get pissed off by drunk men above all, the worst are the flaming bro douches. The ones with oozing testosterone and backwards hats, the ones who flex their muscles while drinking their Labatt Blue. I have no time for your bullshit. Reading a book in the well lit corner is better than getting your ass grabbed by scumbags any day.

I am not going to preach about any kind of lifestyle choices because I cannot rule you, I am only in charge of my own actions. I can understand why people go straightedge. Being focused and strong, making sure they are ready to fight for the revolution. Giving up drugs because your friends are dying, your little brothers and sisters are overdosing. Live because they died. Cops killing in the name of the racist war on drugs, quick money, and it all goes by in the blink of an eye.

Never judge anyone for not drinking or partaking in drugs. Respect every person’s right to choose. They will be the people you look too when you are messed up and need help at 4am.

How can I expect to have a real connection with someone that I consistently meet at 4am at a bar? He is always fucked up. Singing and dancing like a sprite, perfect to the sight, no idea how bright. So beautiful, but not cogniscant of what I am capable of. I will keep you warm and fed, I will hold you when you are sad, I will travel to the end of the world with you, holding hands against adversity. I want to be someone’s everything kind of love.

Yet I grasp for straws.

I hate that moment when someone decides they are not interested. Hot guy comes up and initiates conversation, it’s going well, we are both laughing, then all of a sudden “I need to get a drink.” He goes to the bar, gets his drink, and walks away like we were never talking.

LAME. I don’t want to monopolize someones time, but it’s kind of rude to walk away with no viable explanation. I’ts not like he owed me anything, but come on. He then started talking to a smaller, cuter girl. Typical.

People fight with their significant others only when they are both drinking. Some people only get the balls to communicate when they drink. Important things that should be discussed with a clear mind are haphazardly thrown on the table.

There is something so wrong about fuzzy conversation, basing your decisions on the clouded mind of a drunk. Like Kimya Dawson says: “Without 40 ounces of social skills I’m just an ass in the crack of humanity.” I am socially inept, downright scared to talk to people when I am out of my comfort zone. But to be fair, sometimes I isolate myself by going out in full makeup and costume after one of my shows. I would be afraid to talk to me, too.

As a bartender I was definitely a therapist. I did not like drinking while I worked for that reason. I know a lot of bartenders who think otherwise. It really got to me after awhile, seeing the effect it had on people made it not appealing. There is nothing sexy about drunk people.

Being a bartender is HARD! stressful work. People are basically on vacation and some treat you like a common slave. I can’t be fake nice for a tip anymore. I have a tip for you, don’t be a misogynist asshole and go fuck yourself. How’s that for a tip?

Do you really know someone if you only see them when they are all fucked up? IS that them? If someone is drunk more often than not does that define them? Are they just “a drunk” now? That’s sad.

I don’t want to think that. Sobriety provides clarity and focus, not hiding behind the false good feels. I don’t want to be an asshole anymore. People get mean when they drink and make excuses. “Oh I only smoke when I drink.” “Oh I only do coke when I drink.” “Oh I only beat my wife when I drink.” “Oh I only smash up my car and kill entire families when I drink.”

Moderation is everything, I know that, but sometimes you just gotta dry out and start over. I have never had a bad reaction with marijuana. Cocaine is not a social drug. People end up in the bathroom, then tweak out, nobody wants to share it because it’s so expensive. Weed is about community, a peace pipe, I am always happy to pass the joint. Alcohol is also a party substance that people are happy to share. Arriving with a case of beer can save the party.

Most are trying to fill a void with liquor and drugs. Alcohol is social fuel for the terminally awkward. Our generation is confused. Real honest connections are blurred.

It is lovely to be the one who can keep their shit together among an incapacitated crowd. The responsible one, the human that you look for when shit gets too weird. The party hero. Carrying around a solo cup full of water.

Clarity now, the fog has lifted and I can see your true colors. Now is the time to take chances, be weird without alcohol. An aggressive drunk girl can seem pathetic, but an aggressive sober girl is different.

People can be uncomfortable around sober folks, so don’t brag about being sober, drink your water and act a fool. The only one stopping you from having an amazing time is yourself.

Cheers,

Cat

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, young people should get used to temporary employment. That means that Generations X, Y, and Millennials should get used to badly paid uncertain employment with lousy or no benefits to speak of.

This article is not about how our Prime Minister rode the younger vote into office on a promise to fix unsteady employment. It’s not about the fact that Trudeau turned his back on young Canadians the same way protesters turn their backs on him.

This is about getting fired.

Dismissals are increasingly common as work gets more unstable. Fortunately, there are laws that protect people from the worst behaviors of employers.

In Quebec we have two main laws to protect employees: the Civil Code and the Act Respecting Labour Standards.

The Civil Code’s provision on dismissal says that if your period of employment is for an unfixed term, you are legally entitled to a notice of termination.

The notice of termination is a written document announcing that you’ve been dismissed from the job. If you’ve been working constantly at the job for three months or more, you are legally entitled to that notice.

The time between that notice and the day you are actually supposed to stop working depends on how long you’ve been there. If you’ve been working continuously at a job for between three months to a year, you’re legally entitled to one week’s notice. If you’ve been working one to five years, you’re supposed to get two weeks notice. For five to ten years of service, you’re entitled to four weeks notice, and for over ten years of service, you’re legally entitled to eight weeks of notice.

Most employers do not want you at the job after they’ve decided to fire you, and they are allowed to ask you to leave, but there is a catch. If they don’t want you working during the mandatory time between serving you the notice and the time you are legally entitled to, they have to pay you an indemnity equivalent to the wages you would have gotten for that period. That means that if you’re entitled to two weeks notice and they ask to leave right away, they owe you two weeks’ pay. It should be noted however that if your employer fails to give you that notice or indemnity, you are legally entitled to ask for it and should.

When it comes to the act of actually firing someone, there are only a few legitimate reasons an employer can use. They can fire you for misconduct, for having a bad attitude, for your lack of skills, insufficient performance, or your incompetence, all of which are considered “good and sufficient cause for dismissal”.

What employers cannot do is fire you as punishment for something they’ve already reprimanded you for. It’s the double jeopardy rule of employment law that means that if, for example, you screwed up at work and your boss suspended you for a week for your actions, they’re not allowed to fire you for the exact same mistake.

Employers are also not allowed to engage in “constructive dismissal”, known in French as “congediement deguisee” or disguised dismissal. This is the practice where instead of firing you outright, in which case they’d have to give you the proper notice, indemnity, and paperwork, your employer makes a unilateral and fundamental change to your employment without reasonable notice, thus making your working conditions so unpleasant that you quit on your own.

This includes, for example, cutting your hours by crazy amounts when you’ve worked a certain number of hours at this job for years, or unilaterally cutting your pay without explanation. If the changes to your working conditions are so dramatic you’ll have to quit your job to find conditions equivalent to the ones you had before, you can argue that you’ve been the victim of constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal can also take the form of psychological harassment making your job so unbearable that you quit.

The almighty layoff is another way you can lose your job, but it does not carry the same stigma as dismissal. Permanent layoffs are related to the internal or economic life of the employer and supposedly have nothing to do with the employee(s) they let go – the sort of “it’s not you, it’s ME” version of dismissal. Reasons for layoff can include a decline in the company’s business, reorganization of the business, the implementation of new technology, or the sale of the business.

Regardless of whether you were terminated or laid off, the rules regarding notices of dismissal still apply. If you suspect your employer has mishandled letting you go, feel free to call the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail at 1 844 838-0808 to see if you have any legal recourse.

If you decide to go after your employer for how they treated you, you have a few options. If you had two or more years of uninterrupted employment before being dismissed and feel that you were let go without a good and sufficient cause, you can file a complaint with the Commission des normes within forty-five days of your termination. The complaint must be in written form and failure to do so within that time makes you lose your right to pursue it.

The Commission des normes de travail can then act on your behalf to come up with some kind of agreement between you and your employer to ensure the law is obeyed. You also have the option of suing your employer in civil court. If you cannot afford a lawyer, remember that legal aid may be an option for you.

In this era of unstable employment, employees need to protect themselves more than ever. The next time you get let go, contact Normes de travail. You may have more rights than you think.

Dyngus day is a Polish holiday that celebrates the day after Easter. Women tap the boys they like with pussy willows and men dump buckets of water on the girls they like.

Buffalo NY is the biggest Dyngus Day party in the world. It has turned into an awful display of humanity, but I never realized it. It is like I finally woke up. Grown men stumbling around wearing I LOVE PUSSY shirts and pissing on everything they could find. Open container and indecent exposure isn’t a thing I guess.

For one day a year, the streets of Buffalo’s Eastside are filled with a sea of red and white. Thousands packed the streets for the 11th annual parade celebrating Buffalo polish pride and the end of Lent. Floats throw kielbasa, butter lambs, rye bread, and even cartons of MILK – vegan nightmare!

It’s like Mardi Gras, but instead celebrates the end of lent, the end of giving things up. You have to work for this, it’s a reward.

People who are here may have had family that once lived on the Eastside, but let’s face it, the neighborhood has gone through a demographic shift! It has been swept into poverty.

I am from the neighborhood, too, but it doesn’t make it right to hulk smash through the current residents of the poorest neighborhood and piss all over it. Polish people moved to the suburbs and didn’t want the old Polonia neighborhood or Dyngus Day to die, but it can’t continue like this. Perhaps renovating the Central Terminal will be a real positive for the neighborhood rather than a Polish invasion.

I know that am part of the problem. I keep coming to this realization and until I stand up and fucking change it I AM THE PROBLEM.

I stood there with my friend, wearing flowers. We had biked down to the East Side. We were standing in front of a building where two men of color diligently worked putting up tiles on the front of it. There was a younger child on the second floor peering out the window. Men kept filing in and pissing on the side of the building, the kid was yelling “STOP PISSING ON MY HOUSE I CAN SEE YOU!” I should have backed the kid up. Even the men remodeling didn’t stop them, what power did they have in a sea of bros? White men have been pissing on them their whole lives, now it is just literal. Next year I want to fill up a super soaker with PISS and squirt all the assholes who just think they can piss all over the east side.

Yes it is a depressed neighborhood, there are a lot of abandoned houses, but I know damn well that people are trying, people are LIVING THERE and we run through their backyards like fools. Dyngus Day guests need to have respect for others and should be ashamed of themselves.

To some people it is innocent fun, but these same people need to open up their eyes. Just because you aren’t doing something on purpose doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

It felt like we were at a Donald Trump rally. There was a sea of red and white, motorcycles, all white people, the occasional MAKE AMERICA POLISH AGAIN sign, and the most blatant shirt with Trump’s face that said GRAB HER BY THE PUSSY WILLOW! Pussy willows, squirt guns, red and white, falcons, butter lambs, kielbasa, traditional dancers, goofy t-shirts, racist rhetoric, oh yea and a league of Trump supporters.

Their sense of entitlement astounds me. The disillusionment is mind blowing. Trump has an audience with these fools- misogynist, racist, anxious, angry, and teetering middle class comfort. Disenfranchised white people are dangerous! Scary and powerful, balding, scared of change and won’t ever admit fault.

At the heart it is a quirky holiday, and I should feel safe to celebrate my heritage. We just need to stop being assholes about it.

The custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, a sign of fertility and purity. Pussy willows are the first bud of spring. They are indicative of new growth. 50 shades of red and white, whipping and splashing. Lots of dirty shirts talking about wet pussies have emerged from these traditions. Polka bands with names like Hokus Polkas and Those Idiots are my favorites.

 

This holiday NOT observed in Poland. Smingus Dyngus means “wet Monday” in Polish. Buffalo likes to make everything into a drinking holiday – 2 for $5 shots of Krupnik (Polish honey liquor). As I was waiting in line for the porta potty, a girl shared some krupnik out of a honey bear bottle. I tried to buy it from a liquor store on the west side and he had no idea what I was talking about.

Sure, I’ve been the butt of pollack jokes.  The radio station 97 rock hosted a day of pollack jokes on Monday. People are embarrassed of their heritage because of the stigma of being a dumb pollack. Try being a dumb pollack and a dumb blonde at the same time.

Why is it ok to make fun of Polish people so openly? The official Dyngus Day Facebook page called out 97 Rock for making fun of Polish people. These same folks can’t seem to find a problem in supporting a BIGOT misogynist president, though.

I am proud of my culture, but I am not proud of my race as a whole historically. Victim narrative of angry white men is too common a story. People who feel like their government has left them behind.

In Buffalo, the day Trump was elected their was a huge fire at the former shell of Bethlalem Steel. A symbol of strength and American economy, a symbol of the failure of these white men. The industry failed, Buffalo lost a lot of jobs. Now it burns as Trump rises like a fucking phoenix from hellfire.

Wake up! THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND WHITENESS – the American Dream was only designed for white men, they have been babied and feel “lied to” and now they are pissed that the Easter Bunny isn’t real, they chased the white rabbit into a hole of racism and anger. Oh no, your butter lamb melted!

White privilege is the ability to piss all over someone else’s pride and dignity without seeing the consequences. There were so many drunk bros and retired men reeking havoc with their blurred sense of reality. The girls were no better. We all had on pretty flowers and held water guns and took selfies on the same streets that kids were murdered with real guns.

The Eastside of Buffalo is a war zone, between gang violence and police straight up murdering people I would be afraid to leave my house too. Now we add a sea of entitled suburbanite asshats to the mix?

We need to be giving back to this community, loving and nurturing the people who are there, not just colonizing for one day and leaving. We need to ask them where we are needed and not trample on their dignity in the name of tradition.

My friend was busking on a street corner and got bashed in the face with his own clarinet by a drunk bro. Great job Buffalo, probably the same internet sensation who was fucking his girlfriend and doing lines of coke in the lot outside of the Bills game.

Of course Anderson Cooper laughed at this…

On April 13, 2017 the Orange Racist Misogynist US President’s Mar-a-Lago resort was found to have at least thirteen health violations.

This article is not about the current US President, who seems to waste too much time at a resort that improperly disposes of fish parasites and stores food on rusty shelves, thus causing health risks to his fellow wealthy white male gasbags.

This article is about food safety.

Anyone who has endured severe nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea after what seemed to be a safe and pleasant restaurant meal knows that food poisoning and food safety are no laughing matter. Food poisoning can cause hours or even days of discomfort and in some cases, even death. It is for this reason that food safety is so important.

In Canada, food safety is a major priority and every food-related industry is affected. Since the process of food inspection spans farming to fisheries to restaurants to the production of processed foods, this article is going to focus specifically on restaurant and food service safety and inspection.

Food safety and inspections relating to restaurants and food services in Canada are generally handled by the provincial authorities, though when there’s a big city involved, the provinces often delegate to municipal authorities, as in the case in Quebec.

In Quebec, restaurant and food safety is handled by primarily by the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pecheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ). MAPAQ delegates responsibility for food safety inspections in Montreal to the City of Montreal’s department of food inspection. Both organizations must enforce the Quebec Food Products Act.

The Quebec Food Products Act is a law that covers basic food safety in the province of Quebec. It defines food as anything that can be used to feed man or animals, including beverages but excluding anything alcoholic, which falls under the Act respecting the Société des alcools du Québec. Ice and bottled water are also considered food as per the act if they are intended for sale by volume or for preserving or preparing food. This information is not only useful for those charged with enforcing the law, but also handy for anyone arguing with a loved one about whether or not their favorite snack food is actually “real food”.

The term “restaurateur” as per the act refers to anyone who serves or sells meals or refreshments for consumption. This includes operators of schools and establishments governed by the Act respecting health services and social services, the Act respecting health services and social services for Cree Native persons, the Act respecting the Québec correctional system, and the Government and their departments or agencies.

The rules for food safety as per the Act are clear.

No one can prepare, keep for sale, purchase, sell, and resale or give as promotional items food that is unfit for human consumption, so deteriorated as to be unfit for human consumption, or if the safety of the food is “uncertain”.

Facilities used for food preparation and the vehicles used to transport it must be clean and sanitized. Machinery used in food preparation must be in good working order, designed for their intended use, and permit the cleaning and disinfecting of the machine when necessary. People involved in food preparation must comply with hygiene and sanitation rules prescribed by government regulations.

The City of Montreal’s Food Inspection Department has been around since 1927 and is now charged with enforcing the Act in the city. Their team of forty inspectors works to protect food consumers by ensuring the quality and safety of food prepared in restaurants, retail establishments, and in the transformation, preparation, storage, and distribution of food sectors. The City’s food inspection team is also responsible for temporary establishments, such as food stands set up for special events like the Montreal Jazz Festival, Grand Prix, and Just for Laughs.

The job of the inspectors is to inspect food and food related businesses and activities in terms of health risks and safety. They can also advise food business operators on good food safety practices, and conduct food quality and safety analyses.

As they have been charged by MAPAQ with enforcing the Act, the City’s food inspectors can charge and impose penalties on those in violation of the Food Products Act, which consist of fines ranging from two hundred and fifty dollars to two thousand dollars for a first offense, with fines increasing for every subsequent offense.

The City often imposes fines in response to complaints, which can be made by anyone witnessing unsanitary conditions at a restaurant or retail food seller, or following the consumption of food at an establishment that made the person sick. You can either phone in a complaint at 514-280-4300, or fill in an online form available at the City of Montreal’s website. In order to successfully submit a complaint online, all you need to provide are your name and contact info, the name and address of establishment, and the date and a brief description of the incident. The information provided is considered confidential and once a complaint is received, the City inspectors should respond within twenty-four hours.

Want to try a new restaurant or café but doubtful of its cleanliness? The City of Montreal has a page allowing you to see if a place has previously been cited for food safety violations. You can search for it according to the name of the place, the address, the street, city, or type of business. Just remember that a previous citation for health violations doesn’t necessarily mean the place is not up to code now.

The City of Montreal gets about 1900 complaints a year for everything from unclean conditions, to spoiled food, to vermin, to illness following food consumption. In a city that thrives on vibrant restaurant culture, food safety is a major priority, so don’t be afraid to give them a call the next time your food makes you sick.

* Featured image by Michela Simoncini, Creative Commons

I hear a beautiful song or poem or painting or glance

It touches my heart
Then I want the artist to touch my body
Skillfully
Artfully
Fully

Spend time on me like a painting
Write our present moment like a song
Give my kisses the passion of a poem

I just want to know him
She is too beautiful to tell
I see the girls that strike their fancy
Hell
They look nothing like me

But I know that art is meant to make that feeling feel real
And I am not special
I am seduced like the others

You are the electric tangerine stripe in a cobalt sky just after sunset
You are the poppyseeds in my teeth
The barbeque sauce on my fingers
Delicately licked
Smacked
Sucked
Sticky

They will tear you apart
Until there is nothing left but your art
Open wide with a price tag
Vivisection connection
There on display for mass consumption

I see
Obsession in the third degree
I have a problem where I think the world revolves around me

But the art you made was for a girl you knew growing up
The song was about a stranger on the subway
Something you heard in a dream
Perhaps an ex or a fantasy

Not me
It was never about me.

As an artist myself, I am often surprised at how I fall in love with the sparkles of hope in someone’s soul bearing words or visuals. Every time I feel duped by shiny pretty lights. Smoke and mirrors.

I often wonder if someone has ever felt that connection to me? Has someone thought I was out of their league? Saw my art and fell in instant love, lust, glee, watched my ass jiggle on stage, or heard me read a poem for the first time, perhaps even reading this blog.

I hope to connect with the broken hearted but not to break more hearts. I sit here alone at every art opening and poetry reading, every concert and play, just hoping that this one time it IS about me, and I will live happily ever after with the artist of my dreams.

Every person I have loved is an art maker, a shaker, an artful faker, and a heart breaker. I need to be with an artist because I know they are capable of passion. Life must be lived with absolute passion, careful thought and careless blocks of paint and color, words that stop wars.

Musicians are the worst. I fall for them so easily, so hard. It’s like their words and sounds touch places inside me that cannot be touched by mere mortals.

Drummers hold a beat in the bedroom, guitarists and piano players are good with their fingers, songwriters and poets write lyrics better than sex, they linger. The everlasting embrace of creativity that enraptures me, seduces me, envelopes me in thoughts that are dangerous to my mental health.

I have no stealth. I clumsily love those who are floating on their own clouds. They all have hot girlfriends now, but not when I started. I feel eternally broken-hearted. I love so hard it blinds me, then when I see it’s truly embarrassing.

I do get sad. It’s unavoidable. The pandora stations I listen to are based on all of my past relationships, people I have dated, girls I have had crushes on. It’s not like I want to go back to any of them, I know everything ends for a reason. But I think what if I ran into him at the Pink? What if I looked up and saw that familiar pout? Would I brush the hair from his forehead and kiss him like I did a thousand times before? Would it feel the same?

I took it for granted, didn’t know it was going to end, did’t really have any expectations, I never do. I never know who is going to make my chest tingle, these people are few and far between. I don’t just pounce, I long, I wonder, I let things pass me by. I never think I am anyone’s “type”, do people have types? I don’t! I walk through life haphazardly bumping into people until one of them makes me tingle, then I cling to them like static and never say a word until, of course, it’s too late.

What happens when your current crush likes all the bands that your ex liked? Then who will the songs remind you of? Both simultaneously methinks. The good times are killing us while the bad times consume our souls. It is unrelenting and never ending.

I elevate my crushes so it’s easier to feel that way about someone who is already on the stage. Looking down on me and my insecurity, they have no idea how much love is bursting from my seams. My skin is going to explode and a ball of light is going to shoot out of me.

I need to love others, share the light, stand up and fight, words like daggers can stagger through the night. Putting people on a pedestal is wrong, they are just human. If I never tell any of them how I feel, is the feeling real? Or is it just something that lives and dies inside of me, a waxing moment of passion, gone in a flash.

Even this pain will fade, the colors will blur with new love and possibility. It will turn grey and shrivel. Lather, rinse, repeat. I will never stop loving musicians, poets, painters, photographers, and creators. Even if it hurts, it’s worth it to feel that moment of special. They SEE you! To be loved by an artist you will forever be second to their art, because even love and sex don’t compare to expression!

Usually I am lost in my own art. I haven’t written about my heart lately because honestly I haven’t “felt” anything “real” in awhile. My heart has been too swollen with the reality that a young black man has been murdered by the police in my neighborhood. The president of my country is a cheeto demi-god complex fool who is making even more a mockery my country. 40% of the food is in dumpsters and children starve around the world and around the block from me. Transgender women are being targeted and murdered, they can’t even pee in peace. No Muslim or Jewish person is safe, neither is anyone of any distinguishing race. Animals are being tortured for consumption. Rape, slavery, bombs, wars, and lack of education are killing us and big corporate greed is demolishing our Earth at a rapid pace (not even the water is safe). I have no debt but still don’t know how I am going to continue to pay my bills. My grandpa has dementia, my best friend is racist, and my job is in jeopardy due to gentrification. How can I find time to be sad about my lack of a love life? There is no time to wallow, only to fight, and not forget to dream.

That’s why I fall in love with fellow artists, with those moments that make me forget about how hard things are. It is a selfish release. I want to live in their world, be part of that fanciful scene. I want to be the girl they knew in high school or the song they wrote in a dream. I want beauty, passion, and all that lies between. Bask in the spotlight together, the same kind of weird.

Pay attention to your heart, pay attention to art. Love uncontrollably, even if it hurts after, it was worth it. It will always be worth it.

 

Germany, Rwanda, Kosovo, Syria – what do these places have in common? They were and are the sites of some of the worst atrocities in our history.

On April 7, 2017 the Orange-Gasbag President of the US authorized military strikes against Syria. The attack was allegedly precipitated by the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Though the Syrian government, led by president Bashar al-Assad, has denied responsibility for the chemical attacks, the insurgents he is fighting not only lacked the means to commit them, but the targets consisted of the rebel-held town of Khan-Sheikhan, and one of the medical clinics treating victims of the ongoing civil war.

This article is not about the US President’s hypocrisy, as he blames Obama for the situation in Syria and yet in 2013 tweeted:

It is not about the fact that the US military strike hit an almost empty airbase that had little impact on Assad’s reign of terror, or the fact that the Orange Blowhard’s administration has clearly seen the film Wag the Dog.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, it features a President on the brink of scandal whose advisors fabricate a war to win back support from the American people. With the evidence of treason against the Cheeto Administration mounting, it should be no surprise that they’ve thrown themselves into a war against a hugely unpopular world leader, especially given that said world leader is backed by Russia, the very state accused of hacking the American election. With evidence mounting that Russia was warned about the US airstrike, this move by Orange Administration is clearly just for PR purposes.

This article is about Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, and War Crimes.

With refugees being turned away by xenophobic politicians in primarily white countries and military leaders breaking every rule in International Law, it’s high time we looked at how the world defines these crimes.

For this article, I’m going to use the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court and has been in force since 2002.

The International Criminal Court, based in The Netherlands, is a permanent court that investigates and tries individuals charged with crimes against humanity. Their goal is to put an end to impunity for atrocities and acts complementary to existing criminal justice systems.

The Rome Statute, in describing the role of the International Criminal Court, provides detailed definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Genocide is defined as any of the following acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group”:

  • Killing members of that group
  • Causing serious physical or mental harm to members of said group
  • “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”
  • Imposing measures to prevent births within that group
  • Forcibly transmitting the children of said group into that of another group

Crimes against humanity are defined by the Rome Statute as acts committed as part of a “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of the attack.” That means that for an act to be considered a crime against humanity, it has to be part of a widespread deliberate attack against civilians that includes one or all of the following acts:

  • Murder
  • Extermination
  • Enslavement
  • Deportation or forcible transfer of the population
  • Imprisonment
  • Torture
  • Rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, or forced sterilization or any other serious sexual violence
  • “Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender” or other grounds
  • Enforced disappearances
  • Apartheid
  • “Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

Unfortunately, the Rome Statute’s definition gender is binary, recognizing only male and female despite evidence that gender goes beyond the two.

War Crimes are defined as breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which establish a set of rules for humanitarian treatment in war. Article 8 of the Rome Statute has a sort of abridged version of the definition of war crimes, which include:

  1. Willful killing
  2. Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments
  3. Willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health
  4. Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly
  5. Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power
  6. Willfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of a fair and regular trial
  7. Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement
  8. Taking of hostages

The Statute lists other offenses as war crimes, including intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects even when they’re not military objectives.

Though it goes without saying that war crimes and crimes against humanity are indeed taking place in Syria, prosecuting war crimes is always a problem. As Larry May, Professor of Philosophy and author of the book Crimes Against Humanity: A Normative Study once wrote:

“We cannot prosecute on the basis of moral outrage alone.”

It is for this reason that rules on how to prosecute atrocities were established. However, in order to successfully do so, you need a certain degree of consent from the country the crimes took place in, as state sovereignty and the right to self-determination is the rule in our international system. There are no overarching laws to force countries to hand over their war criminals if they don’t want to subject them to international justice.

The International Criminal Court can only prosecute cases committed in a state that is party to the Rome Statute since 2002. The ICC has no jurisdiction in countries like the USA, China, and Russia who chose not to ratify the treaty, undoubtedly due to concerns about their own statesmen being prosecuted.

In this international crisis we have to remember that we are citizens of the world with a responsibility to shelter and protect the victims of atrocities and punish the perpetrators. At the same time, we must do our best to respect that the people of a country have the right to determine what is best for them. Let’s hope an influential someone in the White House remembers this too.

Until the recent election of the Orange racist misogynist, the public seems to have had mixed feelings about the press. On the one hand, people use it as a means of achieving justice via social pressure and shaming when our legal system fails them. On the other hand you have people unreasonably targeted in the court of public opinion thanks to the press and social media, ruining their lives before the courts can decide their innocence, liability, or guilt. On top of that, news websites are covered with politically or corporate sponsored pieces masquerading as real news that claim to be offering sound advice and information when they’re really just pushing products or agendas no one needs.

It is in this new age of juggling fake vs. real news that we as a society need to take a serious look at what real journalism is, and the laws and ethics of those who practice it.

The simplified definition of journalism is the occupation of a diverse bunch of people who write, edit, and distribute electronic, print, and audio visual material on subjects of public interest. People think of journalists as strictly doing the news, but most news websites have everything from the news, to animal sob stories, to entertainment stuff, to insight on fashion and tech trends to ranty editorial pieces.

That said, though the press is universally recognized as playing an important role in any healthy democracy, there is little in Canadian law explicitly protecting its members. Journalists are widely considered to be the watchdogs of our democracy, calling bullshit and demanding justice before everyone else, but there’s no special law guaranteeing their rights.

Most of the rights of journalists come from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In Quebec, the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Civil Code, and in the rest of Canada, case law.

In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we have article 2(b) which guarantees freedom thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press for everyone.

In the Quebec Charter, we have sections 3 and 9. Section 3 is a lot like 2(b) of the Canadian Charter in that it protects freedom of opinion and expression. Section 9 protects our right to the non-disclosure of our confidential information.

Last but not least in Quebec, we have civil law, written into our Civil Code and Code of Civil Procedure. The rule is that any evidence found to be obtained under circumstances that violate someone’s fundamental rights and freedoms can, to a certain discretionary degree, be rejected by the courts.

Journalists’ fight to protect their sources is one of the more frequent issues that come up before the courts, forcing our justice system to define the rights of the press outside of any definitive legislation.

In 2010 in Globe and Mail v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court was asked to come up with a way of deciding under what circumstances a journalist should be made to reveal their source.

Anonymous sources are extremely important for societal watchdogs as it allows them to get information from people in circumstances where their job, their reputation, or their lives would be jeopardized by publicly sharing the information themselves. On the other hand, you have the right of the authorities to know where important information is coming from in order to successfully resolve a criminal investigation, and the right of lawyers to have access to information and people in order to successfully defend their clients against criminal charges or lawsuits.

The Supreme Court in Globe and Mail used the Quebec Civil Code and the Canadian and Quebec Charters to come up with the following test as to whether a journalist should be made to reveal their source:

First, one must ask if the evidence resulting from making a journalist answer questions that could reveal their sources would be relevant to the case. If the answer is yes, the courts must consider the following four factors about the anonymous source:

  1. The relationship must originate in a confidence that the source’s identity will not be disclosed
  2. Anonymity must be essential to the relationship in which the communication arises
  3. The relationship must be one that should be sedulously fostered in the public interest
  4. The public interest served by protecting the identity of the informant must outweigh the public interest in getting at the truth

In addition to those rules and tests, you have the criminal code and the rules regarding civil liability.

Hate propaganda, public incitement of hatred, and promoting genocide are all criminal offenses in Canada.

If someone causes you damages such as those that could cost you your wealth or livelihood, damages that negatively affected your health, or damages that caused you psychological problems, you are allowed to seek reparations for those damages. People in Canada have successfully sued journalists and media companies for damages because their actions ruined their reputations and/or violated their right to privacy.

Outside the law, the press tends to regulate itself. Lobby groups like the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec put out codes of ethics for the profession that set out the rules they all should follow. This includes no plagiarizing, making sure to put out accurate information, and making clear distinctions between their personal opinions and the facts they present.

In an age where politicians feel free to accuse the press of undermining democracy, media literacy is more important than ever. We have a responsibility to keep our eyes open for the thinly veiled sponsored pieces and the ranty conjecture masquerading as fact.

Journalists who expose this to us are more important than ever and we need more rules to protect them. Politicians may not like reporters, but without them there’d be no democracy, and no one would know who they are. As Oscar Wilde once said:

“The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.”

Let’s keep the press free, so they can keep talking.

* Featured image by Pete O’Shea via Flickr Creative Commons

Is hugging just plain weird? Hugs not drugs. Free hugs. Cheek to cheek bodies entangled. A pat, a brief squeeze, or a firm grip. There is something incredibly magical about the transfer of energy between two people. The touching of bodies in a warm embrace, a gesture of kindness and love.

But there can be a dark side to hugging. You can trigger all kinds of stuff by thinking you are just innocently hugging someone. It is no different than rape. The key is consent, making sure that the person you are about to hug wants to be hugged.

Personal space is always to be cherished and respected. You cannot assume anything about anyone, you don’t know if someone was abused or just doesn’t like to be touched.

Someone you normally hug may not want the hug this time. Do you ever have days where you just don’t feel like being social? There have been times I have felt obligated to hug someone because they wanted it. I wouldn’t just sleep with someone because I know they wanted it! Hugging should be no different.

I am calling myself out on being an offender of taking away other’s freedom with my free hugs. I have hugged someone and immediately regretted it. I have been a hug rapist. I have also been guilty of lingering too long, making the hug uncomfortable by accident.

If someone is pulling away let them. Do not be too aggressive or squeeze the life out of someone. Don’t force yourself onto anyone, ever.
 It really is a personal thing, so yea, I think it is weird to hug someone when you first meet them, even if you are being introduced by someone you both know and hug. A hug goodbye on a first meeting may be appropriate with proper consent of course. A hug hello can be amazing between say two people who haven’t seen each other in awhile. Running toward each other at the airport. The hug is obviously wanted by both parties, they yearn for it. When they finally collide in a rush of squeeze it is beautiful. This is the hug people dream about later.

Human contact is so important. We feed off of each other. A good hug with consent is like no other feeling in the world. You can literally feel the energy merge.

 

I feel the need to offer a hug to people I love when they are sad. Putting a sobbing human into yourself is intense, you take in all of their negative energy and try so hard to rub off your positivity into them. Comforting another human is a raw and pure basic instinct.

I find myself taking on a maternal role with some of my younger friends sometimes. I am fairly certain that I am never going to have children, so I don’t mind sharing my energy with others, hugging the world that wants to be hugged.

Children often are the victims of unwanted hugs. I remember being hugged by a lot of adults. It was confusing because I knew I was not supposed to talk to grown ups, you know stranger danger, be aware. Then I would meet family friends or whatever and they would go in for the hug immediately. Red flag bro! I don’t even know you! Why would you put a kid in that situation. It will cause a lifelong fear of intimacy.

A lot of people do not like hugs. Never assume someone wants it. Always ask, even if body language suggests otherwise. If they say no offer a handshake, fist bump, or a wave. Don’t ever just “Oh we are friends” and go for it, if you do that you are not a good friend.

The double cheek kiss is an odd greeting to me too. Nobody has time for a cheek full of someone else’s lipstick traces, but that’s for a different blog.

Just remember, consent, consent, consent! Oh, and I hate when people go in for the hug when I am just done performing and still topless. No bad touch. Be considerate and respectful to others at all times. “May I hug you?” See that’s easy!

On March 23, 2017, M- 103 on “Systemic Racism and religious discrimination” passed in the House of Commons. The motion was introduced by Iqra Khalid, a Liberal MP from Mississauga Ontario and is considered to be Canada’s anti Islamophobia motion, though it has little worth beyond its symbolism.

The motion met opposition on both sides.

On the one hand you had white supremacists using the good-old “slippery slope” argument in which they claimed that passing the motion was one more step towards forcing Canada under Sharia Law. On the other side you had liberal Canadians – secular and religious, white and people of colour – decrying the gesture as being frivolous.

The motion is not a law.

The motion uses convoluted wording demanding that the government “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism, and religious discrimination” when the motion has no power to do so. Believed to be a politically motivated act to get some pats on the back in wake the Quebec City Mosque massacre, the motion is also completely redundant.

Canada has a lot of protections against discrimination, and they’ve been in our legal system at least thirty years.

First, there’s the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the brain child of the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau when he repatriated our constitution from Great Britain in 1982. The Canadian Charter is entrenched in our constitution, which means that it has primacy over all other laws in Canada and any law deemed to be incompatible with it can be struck down.

The Canadian Charter lists our fundamental freedoms which include those of conscience and religion, of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association. It also contains our legal rights to life, liberty, and security of the person, and to equal protection before law without discrimination based on race, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or physical disability.

The Charter only applies to government entities which include everything from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to public schools to hospitals. If a law is discriminatory, the Canadian Charter allows us to go to court to seek redress for the discrimination. Once one side proves the violation it’s up to the government to prove that the law is within reasonable limits as per the Charter’s main failsafe that allows legislation to survive in spite of itself because the ends justify the means.

Then there’s the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Enacted in the 1970s, the Quebec Charter applies to both private and public entities. The Quebec Charter prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, colour, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, disability and the use of any means to ease it.

The Quebec Charter not only prohibits harassment based on those grounds, but also has provisions against discrimination in everything from access to public spaces, employment, and housing. It also prohibits the distribution or publication of notices, symbols, or signs authorizing discrimination. People whose rights have been violated as per the Quebec Charter can also seek redress via the courts and the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

Last but not least, we have the Canadian Criminal Code.

The Criminal Code has laws about hate propaganda and public incitement of hatred. Publicly advocating for genocide could result in a prison term of up to five years. Publicly inciting hatred and willfully promoting it in a circumstance other than in a private conversation could result in up to two years in jail.

Perhaps the most significant way our Criminal Code punishes hate crimes is via its sentencing guidelines. When the court must determine the sentence of an offender, it must consider a bunch of aggravating circumstances in order to decide whether to give the maximum or not. The first of these aggravating circumstances is:

“evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor,”

Since our laws already punish hate crimes, what is it that the federal government could do to further fight racism and discrimination?

Here are a few ideas that would have greater impact than any frivolous motion at a time in which Canada’s visible and religious minorities are asking for more than symbolic acts to prove the government will protect them.

First, the federal government should make transfer payments to the provinces for education conditional in part on the inclusion of a history or social studies course at the primary or secondary level about Canada’s different cultural and religious communities and their contributions.

It is widely acknowledged that racism is a learned behavior. Education is the key to enlightenment and such a course could prevent kids from becoming hate mongering adults while giving provinces the funds to create the curriculum and fix existing courses that leave people other than the French and English out of Canadian history.

The federal government should also demand that the Implicit Association Test be mandatory for law enforcement as part of their entrance exams.

The Implicit Association Test was created by Harvard University and is useful for determining people’s hidden biases against, for example, a particular ethnicity or gender. Any candidates shown by the test to have strong prejudices against a particular group should be made to undergo training about the groups they’re biased about as a condition for their admission to law enforcement. This would help to tackle racial profiling and police brutality and weed out some of the racists from law enforcement.

Candidates for judicial appointments should be subjected to the same test as a condition of their appointment. Strong negative biases would result in mandatory training as a condition of their appointment. This would not only help with discrimination towards religious or visible minorities, but would also prevent judges like former Judge Robin Camp from ever hearing a rape trial.

Last but not least, the federal government could increase its support for organizations that actively fight discrimination. The Center for Research-Action on Race Relations would be a good one to start with.

Talk, like that in Motion 103, is cheap. The need for symbolism is over. It’s time the government took real action against hate.